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Clap for our carers – but don’t pay them – Oxfordshire accused of hypocrisy over funding

April 15, 2020

The Oxfordshire Carehomes Association has issued a statement which strongly criticises the Oxfordshire County council for increasing the fees it pays to care homes by less than 1% on average for the upcoming financial year.

The association says that while politicians across Oxfordshire have supported the ‘Clap for our carers’ campaign and were effusively praising this key workforce in these hard times, and as the first care workers in adult social care had died as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the praise had proven to be “both hypocritical and false”.

“Only a month ago these same politicians voted on fee increases for care providers across the county, an annual decision made each year,” said the association in its statement.

“This decision was communicated to providers via letter on 31 March and we believe it will have hugely negative consequences for social care providers and the staff that they employ. For care home workers the increased funding this year, if it was all given directly to these heroic front-line workers, amounts to less than 0.1p per hour worked. This does not even cover the increase in the National Living Wage.

“At the same time, Oxfordshire County Council chairman Ian Hudspeth has written national advice for councils across the country. This advice, presumably to other councils, states that providers costs are increasing by 5.75%, which includes a 6% pay increase for all staff and this should be reflected in fee increases to providers. However in his own county the increase offered to care homes amounts to less than 1% on average for the upcoming financial year.

“On top of the Janus-like message to social care providers the politicians are also misleading taxpayers across the county. This year Oxfordshire County Council will collect around £10 million pounds extra in council tax as a social care precept. This is additional money that is collected from taxpayers purely to fund social care services. The funding increases announced in the Council’s decision amount only around £1 million going to social care providers in fee increases. To put this into context the voluntary and independent social care sector employs 14,500 workers in the social care sector, whilst the council employs only 800, according to Skills for Care data. This means that whilst we employ 95% of the frontline workforce we are only receiving 10% of the extra taxes being taken from residents of the county.

“At a time that we are asking care staff to risk their lives to help in the pandemic it feels truly immoral for our politicians to take millions of pounds from taxpayers and refuse to give any of this extra money to these same workers. In fact the funding decision taken by these politicians will mean that many of the brave workers will need to be laid off or suffer pay freezes over the coming months. Whilst this is an Oxfordshire specific issue there is a similar situation occurring all over the country and this is a continuation of decades of similar decisions.”

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